Imagine you are a single mother living in a neighborhood plagued by crime and substance abuse. Your four small children attend school in the mornings, but you have no one to take care of them during the afternoons. You never finished high school because, like many of the girls in the neighborhood where you grew up, you got pregnant in your mid-teens and had to take on the responsibilities of motherhood. Because you never received your diploma, the best you can reasonably hope for is a minimum wage job – $366 per month. With this amount, you could provide for your family’s living expenses, but there wouldn’t be enough left over to pay for childcare. What do you do? Do you lock your children inside of your home, alone for hours, knowing the risks in your neighborhood and the possibility that the government could find out and take your children? Do you, out of necessity and loneliness, find a man to take care of you, even though the majority of men in your neighborhood come from a background where domestic violence and alcoholism are commonplace? Do you turn to prostitution? Do you try to take odd jobs and borrow money here and there, even though it means you accrue debt that will lead to broken relationships and potential legal problems, and your children will still often go entire days without eating? What will all of these possibilities mean for your children? Will they suffer the same hardships you did and end up reliving the same cycle?
These are the types of the problems many families here in Manta face every day and the types of questions many parents are forced to ask themselves – problems to which they often have no solutions and questions to which they often have no answers, all leading to a sense of hopelessness. God has given us a passion for seeking these solutions and answers using the resources that are available to us, and Bonsai is born out of that passion.
what is bonsai?
Bonsai is an after-school program for children of at-risk families in Manta, Ecuador. The name “Bonsai” is taken from a centuries-old Japanese art form in which miniature trees are attentively nourished and shaped over time. The artist must carefully take into account the individuality of his subject in an ongoing, long-term process, ultimately resulting in a beautiful fusion of natural growth and personal cultivation.
The art of bonsai is, in many ways, a metaphor for the impact we aim to have on the children and families with whom we work. It is our hope to be able to take part in shaping and cultivating the lives of these children and families as they develop, striving together with them to bring about positive change. We aim to engage families with utmost care, treating them with dignity and recognizing their unique familial dynamics and circumstances.
mission and objectives
The mission of Bonsai is to partner with families in order to alleviate the severity of poverty and its inherent risks to children in the greater Manta area, and to share the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ with them through relationship. We do this by:
- Providing a safe, Christ-centered environment for children of materially needy families in the form of an after-school program in order to further the social and educational development of these children and to allow their parents greater freedom to work and provide for their families’ needs.
- Developing personal relationships with families that allow us to encourage them and to connect them with educational, psychological, legal, and social resources, and to confront the cultural, emotional, and spiritual causes of poverty with the goal of putting an end to both its immediate and its long-term cyclical effects.
- Sharing the Good News of Jesus through word, deed, and attitude in our relationships with parents, children, and supporters, and ultimately connecting them with the local church so that they can be discipled and grow as followers of Jesus.
Bonsai is an Inca Link ministry in collaboration with Iglesia Bíblica Bautista de Manta (Bible Baptist Church of Manta), and is hosted in the church’s facility. We provide childcare, food, tutoring and homework help, Bible devotions, games, and creative and social activities for children ages 3-12. The program is hosted 5 days a week from 12:30 until 5:30 p.m. and includes transportation for children to and from the ministry site. Staff and volunteers from the ministry meet with families regularly and are building fruitful relationships with them.
Bonsai is currently in its second phase, which allows us to care for and work with up to 20 participating children and their families. We are currently operating based on funds from a handful of sponsors and a few large, one-time gifts, but are seeking monthly donors and sponsors in order to continue this ministry. We have a monthly operating budget of $2,800, which covers the costs of staff salaries and insurance, food, games, craft and activity supplies, vehicle insurance and maintenance, gas, and miscellaneous expenses. Our goal is to have donors in place committed to giving this amount on a recurring, monthly basis through both general giving to the program and individual child sponsorship. To reach our goal, we need $2,000 in new monthly sponsors and donors.
Thank you for taking the time to read about Bonsai. We would greatly appreciate your prayers. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will & Amanda Eason Bonsai Ministry Directors